In every game, there are battles at the line of scrimmage between massive offensive and defensive linemen. But rarely do you have two Pro Bowl players at their respective positions lining up less than 12 inches from each other on every snap – or at least every running down – much less two All Pros with a history of trash talking one another. We have that Sunday, making Pat Williams and Olin Kreutz this week's Matchup to Watch.
The battles between Kreutz and Williams have gone on since Williams arrived in Minnesota in 2005. Big Pat has been the difference in a Vikings run defense that was rated near the bottom of the league to one that was close to setting a modern-day NFL record last year. Kreutz has been a rock at the center position for a decade. Something has always had to give when these two meet and Sunday will be no exception.
The Bears don't try to disguise their offensive philosophy. In a nutshell, they attempt to physically manhandle every opponent and wear them down over the course of 60 minutes by running time-consuming drives on offense. With two quarterbacks that have surrendered 10 interceptions in five games, the offense has been giving the opposition the turnovers they need to beat the Bears. As a result, they Bears will look to establish the run, which is where Williams comes in.
When the Vikings signed Williams in 2005, it was in order to give the Vikings their own version of Ted Washington, who helped revitalize the Chicago defense years earlier. Williams made an immediate impact and the Vikings pleased him earlier this season with a contract extension that will let him finish his career as a Vikings. Good news for Williams, bad news for Chicago.
When you have two players who are among the best at what they do, something will have to give. In some instances, Kreutz has held the advantage. In others, Big Pat has thrown him around. If the Bears expect to win, they're going to need to establish running back Cedric Benson, who is known as a between-the-tackles runner. It will be Williams' job to make sure they can't do it and are forced to go to the air to try to win the game. Whoever holds the upper hand in this battle is likely going to be celebrating after the game. In a game that could come down to one possession or one play, this clash of the titans will top the last of matchups this week and clearly is the Matchup to Watch on Sunday.